Venerable Bruno’s method: Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy)

Note: Part 10 on a series on the Mass.  Read the first part here. For an overview of Venerable Bruno’s method, go here.  For a PDF of the method, click here.

Venerable Bruno Lanteri recommends these sentiments in his Spiritual Directory, “At Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), that of the heavenly court.”

Background: Extraordinary Form of the Mass
(Tridentine Mass)

Because Venerable Bruno wrote his preparation for the Tridentine Mass, it would be good to see what is going on at this point in the extraordinary form of the Mass.

The priest speaks aloud the last part of the Secret.  “The priest acts as a mediator speaking directly to God on behalf of man”  (The Latin-English Booklet Missal for Praying the Traditional Mass, p. 28).  That signals the congregation to stand during High Mass for the following dialogue:

“The Lord be with you.”  “And with your spirit.”

“Lift up your hearts.”  “We lift them up to the Lord.”

“Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.”  “It is right and just.”

The priest chants (High Mass) or says (Low Mass) the Preface.  The prayer is “a call to render thanks to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in union with all the heavenly spirits” (The Latin-English Booklet Missal for Praying the Traditional Mass, p. 28).  Some solemnities and feasts have their own proper preface.

This thanksgiving moves into the hymn “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.”  During High Mass, the Choir will sing this.

The congregation kneels for the Roman Canon or the Eucharistic prayer.

Lesson: Can I be joyful at Jesus’ arrival?

One day, the editor of the op-ed page was showing a picture of her grandson around the newspaper office.  She stopped by my desk and asked, “Doesn’t he look cute?”

Here I was rushing to finish my pages before deadline so the paper would be published.  I awaited some photos from the local photographer.  And I received … BABY pictures.  I had no time for this.

But the editor was persistent.  “Come on, Jonas.  Admit it.  He looks cute, doesn’t he?”

Fine.  I looked at the photo.  The grandson did look cute.  I smiled and said, “Yes, he looked cute.”

The editor replied, “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”  She walked away.

How many times have we been joyful that Jesus was coming to us during Mass?  Or how often have we treated Jesus with a cold indifference?  Jesus is coming to us through His Body and Blood so he can abide with us, heal us and strengthen us.  Shouldn’t we have joy for that?  How can we foster that joy?

Venerable Bruno recommends fostering the sentiments of the heavenly court at the Preface.  This hymn of thanksgiving prepares for the Eucharistic prayer when Jesus becomes truly present in His Body and Blood through the appearance of bread and wine.

The Preface gives a reason to be joyful.  Sometimes, it recounts the history of our salvation.  Other times, God is praised for how he acted through the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Church and the saints.  If you wonder why this Mass is celebrated, listen to the Preface.

Venerable Bruno urges us to have the joy of the heavenly court.  He taps into the rich biblical images from the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.”  The words come from three passages.  First, Isaiah 6:1-8 recalls Isaiah seeing the seraphs praising God and flying around God. Second, Matthew 21:1-11 recalls Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem amid praise and palm branches.  Third, the people in praising Jesus use a line from Psalm 118: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

All the passages convey a sense of joy.  Each in their respective books come near a story of the Lord’s triumph.  In Isaiah, Israel is delivered from the scourge of the Assyrians and later, Israel is restored to its former glory.  In Matthew, Jesus conquers sin and death through his Crucifixion and Resurrection.  In Psalm 118, the psalmist thanks God for His victory.

While the Gloria sometimes disappears in weekday Masses, the Preface provides a permanent place for us to foster joy in the Lord.

Jesus is coming to us.  We rejoice and sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy …”

Scripture passages for prayer:

  1. Isaiah 6:1-8: Isaiah encounters the glory of God.
  2. Matthew 21:1-11: Jesus enters Jerusalem amid rejoicing.
  3. Revelations 7:9-17: John receives the vision of the victorious heavenly exultation.
  4. Psalm 118: Psalmist gives thanks to God for his victory over his enemies.

Reflection questions:

  1. What joy do you want to share with the Lord at Mass?
  2. What joyful message do you receive through the Preface of today’s Mass?
  3. Describe a time when the “Holy, Holy, Holy” moved your heart.  What was it like?  How close did you feel to God?

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